Covid-19 patients under home quarantine to wear tracking wristbands from July 15, Hong Kong health minister says; city logs 2,863 infections | South China Morning Post
Covid-19 patients under home quarantine to wear tracking wristbands from July 15, Hong Kong health minister says; city logs 2,863 infections
Health chief Professor Lo Chung-mau also says government is studying to turn part of seven-day hotel quarantine into home isolation. Lo earlier unveiled plans for online bookings for Covid tests for travellers heading to mainland China.All Covid-19 patients under home quarantine will be required to wear tracking wristbands starting from Friday, Hong Kong’s health minister has announced, while revealing the government is preparing for a worst-case scenario as infection numbers rebound.The new plans came as the city recorded 2,863 cases, including 252 imported ones. Seven additional deaths were reported. Hong Kong’s overall coronavirus tally stands at 1,273,663 infections, with 9,419 related fatalities.Secretary of Health Professor Lo Chung-mau also said the government was studying to turn part of the seven-day hotel quarantine for arrivals from overseas into home isolation, to be conducted in a closed-loop arrangement.Lo announced the measures hours after he unveiled plans to allow online bookings for Covid-19 tests for travellers heading to mainland China via the Shenzhen Bay Port and expand the screening quota, apologising for long queues after people earlier swamped the border crossing.To tackle a backlog of nucleic acid tests at the border checkpoint, Lo said a booking system would be able to process 400 people per hour, with a peak of 500. He said the maximum daily capacity for tests would be raised to 2,500 from 1,300 with the company conducting them more than doubling screening machines from 23 to 47.“On Sunday morning, within three hours, about 1,200 people were crossing at the same time, so this created long queues,” Lo said. Shenzhen Bay Port, one of just two land passenger crossings that remain open amid the pandemic, was packed with crowds over the weekend after the Guangdong provincial city boosted the number of quarantine hotel rooms by 700 to 2,000 a day and added more spots for those in need.Earlier in the day, Lo shed some light on planned updates to the “Leave Home Safe” app, saying the aim was to enforce quarantine orders for those at home, adding that currently there was no way to ensure infected residents could not visit high-risk locations such as restaurants, hospitals and care homes.
Lo, who first revealed officials were considering adjusting the “Leave Home Safe” app to require real-name registration a day earlier, stressed authorities were primarily considering a red health code for those who were found to be positive in nucleic acid tests, while real-name registration would make it easier to quarantine those infected.He also said a yellow health code, for example, could be used for overseas arrivals who were quarantining at home, as potentially they could be infected with Covid-19.
“These are people who shouldn’t enter high-risk locations but can go to work point to point,” he said. Macau closes the Grand Lisboa, the first casino shuttered in the Covid-19 pandemicThe mainland uses a three-colour system, which indicates a person’s Covid-19 status via QR codes.
The mainland’s health code app is used to track and contain patients by providing central authorities with user data such as locations, times and personal interactions.The QR codes generated follow a traffic-light system, with the colours affecting where residents can go and how they are treated: a green code declares a resident has not been exposed to any potential cases or risky areas, while yellow and red codes mean they are of higher risk.In December last year, Hong Kong launched a health code system which is built into the “Leave Home Safe” app and compatible with the mainland’s for people who travel across the border.The new health secretary on Monday addressed concerns that the planned updates would allow people’s movements to be traced, saying their main purpose was to identify high-risk individuals and not “track” them down.Some technology experts noted the “Leave Home Safe” app already contained certain personal details such as vaccine records, which included the user’ name and Hong Kong identity card number.While Lo did not give any more details about the planned update, he said the government was now looking at how to define which cases fell under red, yellow or green codes.‘Faster, daily Covid PCR tests could replace Hong Kong hotel quarantine’
9 Jul 2022 He also did not give a timetable for the change, but said authorities hoped to bring them in as soon as possible, with the government already looking at how to make the updates. University of Hong Kong microbiologist Dr Ho Pak-leung told the same programme the government’s goals of minimising infected people’s mobility could theoretically be achieved by suspending their vaccine pass, as it was needed to enter any high-risk venues and operators were required to scan it.
He also said he believed contact tracing should not be the city’s main concern right now. That was because of the large number of infections and a relatively high percentage of cases of unknown origin in the community.